Labouchere Strategy

The Labouchere system, also known as the split Martingale or cancellation system, is one of the most well-known betting systems in the world.

Its name was taken from Henry Labouchère, an English politician and avid roulette player that lived in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. If you’re in search of a simple progressive betting system, consider the classic Martingale or even the Reverse Martingale. If you’re willing to learn a more complicated gambling strategy, the Labouchere system is a great choice.

How the Labouchere Strategy Works

The Labouchere strategy is similar to the Martingale system as they are both negative progression systems. However, unlike the Martingale, the Labouchere does not try to recover previous losses in one fell swoop. Instead, the approach attempts to recover losses using multiple wins over the course of the game.

While the Labouchere strategy can be used with any even money proposition, such as baccarat and blackjack, it is most commonly used at the roulette table. It especially works well with outside bets like odd or even and red or black. 

Although the Labouchere strategy has its flaws, many believe it works as it can return a profit through winning fewer bets than you lose. For this strategy to be truly successful, you have to avoid a lengthy losing streak. 

The Labouchere Strategy: Step-by-Step

To start, set a goal for the amount of money you want to realistically win. Next, you divide that figure into smaller numbers which add up to the total amount you want to win. For example, if you want to win $100, you might divide this figure into 10-10-20-10-10-10-20-5-5. You can divide up your figure in any way that you’d like.

Next, add the number on the far left of your number sequence to the number on the far right. For our example, you would add $10 and $5, meaning you would place a bet of $15. If you place your bet and win, cross out the two figures. If you lose, do not cross anything out. Instead, add the amount that you bet onto the end of the number sequence. 

For example, a winning number sequence using our example would look like this:


And a losing number sequence would look like this:


Continue playing in this manner until all of the numbers are crossed out. If you are successful in crossing out all of your numbers, you should win the amount you set off to win in the beginning. If not, you can continue to play until you feel like stopping or have depleted your bankroll. 

The Labouchere strategy can also work on higher amounts that you would like to win. In the following example, the player would like to win $1,000. 

The player chooses to create a number sequence with the following numbers: 100, 200, 100, 100, 200, 200, 50, 50. 

During the first round, the player bets $150 (100 50) on red and loses, meaning 150 is added to the end of the sequence which now looks like this: 100, 200, 100, 100, 200, 200, 50, 50, 150. 

Next, the player makes a bet of $250 (100 150) on red and wins, meaning the 100 and 150 are crossed out on the number sequence. It now reads 200, 100, 100, 200, 200, 50, 50.

The player now makes a $250 (200 50) bet on red and wins, and the 200 and 50 are crossed off in the number sequence leaving 100, 100, 200, 200, 50 left. 

Next, the player makes a bet of $150 (100 50) on red but loses, meaning 150 is added to the end of the sequence. The sequence now looks like 100, 100, 200, 200, 50, 150.

The player makes a $250 bet (100 150) on red and wins, eliminating 100 and 150 from the sequence, resulting in the following: 100, 200, 200, 50.

Next, the player makes a bet of $150 on red and wins. This sequence is now 200, 200. 

Finally, the player makes a $400 (200 200) bet on red and wins, completing the sequence and winning the total amount of $1,000. 

Limitations of the Labouchere Strategy

When using the Labouchere strategy, it is important to remember that it’s meant to work with even bets, meaning you can use it to place bets on red/black, even/odd, or 1-18/19-36.  While you can use this approach to play on inside bets, this can be fairly risky. To increase your odds, you want to bet on something that has around a 50% chance of winning.

As previously mentioned, running into a losing streak is one of the biggest issues with the Labouchere strategy. There will likely come a time when you experience a losing streak and as you continue adding numbers to your sequence, it can become very difficult to cross out all of the numbers. Remember that the casino always has the upper hand and roulette is a game of chance. 

Due to the chance of running into a losing streak, the Labouchere strategy may not be the best choice for players with a small bankroll. If you are new to casino gambling or don’t want to risk losing all of your money, you may want to steer clear of this system. 

Advantages of the Labouchere Strategy

If you have the patience and bankroll to support it, the Labouchere strategy can leave you walking away with the amount of money you wanted to win. The system is very flexible and the sequence can be adjusted so that you determine how much risk you want to take. 

What’s also great about this system is that you don’t have to win on every bet you make to meet your winnings goal. In fact, you could lose more bets than you win and still achieve a profit.

If you’re not a high roller or are new to this strategy, start off your sequence with the minimum bet allowed in the game. Although your profit won’t be huge, you can get a good grasp of how to use this strategy. You’ll also have a chance of walking away with more than you started with. 

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